Meta has confirmed its intention to remove the dedicated News tab from Facebook's bookmarks section in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany by early December. This strategic move aligns with the company's efforts to redirect its investments toward products and services that are highly valued by users.
In their official statement, Meta stated, “As a company, we need to direct our time and resources toward the content users express a desire to see more of on the platform, particularly short-form video.”
Background of Facebook News
Introduced in 2019, the News tab was initially created as a dedicated section for news articles and headlines within the Facebook app. It was first launched in the United States and later expanded to international markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and France. Following the forthcoming changes in Europe, the News tab will only remain accessible in the United States and Australia. Notably, news content currently constitutes less than 3% of the global content viewed by users on their Facebook feeds.
Impact on European Publishers
Despite the removal of the News tab, European users will still have the ability to view links to news articles on Facebook. European news publishers will retain access to their Facebook accounts and Pages, enabling them to share links to their articles and direct users to their websites. However, direct access to the News tab will no longer be available to publishers in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Meta has committed to honoring all existing agreements with publishers until December but will refrain from entering into new agreements or developing new news products for these markets in the future.
Broader Context and Regulatory Challenges
This decision comes in the wake of recent actions by Facebook and Instagram to limit the distribution of news content and links in Canada due to the implementation of the new Online News Act. This legislation mandates that social media platforms establish financial agreements with news organizations for the distribution of links from these news sources. Additionally, Meta is facing growing regulatory scrutiny in Europe regarding its data privacy practices. The company is also reportedly exploring the introduction of an ad-free paid subscription model in Europe.
Meta's Commitment to Reliable Information
Despite these changes, Meta underscores its commitment to connecting users with reliable information. The company collaborates with more than 90 independent fact-checking organizations worldwide, covering content in over 60 languages. Since 2016, Meta has contributed over $100 million to support these fact-checking initiatives, with the goal of combating misinformation.